My Turn To Talk

17 October, 2006

Freelance Writing, writing

I know…everyone’s how-to-make-it-in-freelance has been done.

I’m taking my turn now.

I feel very qualified to write on distractions and writers block and “the house needs to be cleaned” complex.

Season Episodes

My ex boss decided to drive his very viable business nose –first into the ground along with myself and a very loyal web design guy. My girlfriend decided she wanted to take her job on the road and invited me to accompany her.

My mother had brain surgery and my dad is depressed and realizing he’s “old.”

I’ve let go of my apartment, my truck is paid off, I have really no permanent place to live, I’ve driven across the country, used up the pay-off I was accorded for my years as a partner in a mortgage and now I’m “free” and working on a contract/freelance writing basis.

My parents need serious help. I came home for a month with all good intentions of cooking, cleaning, gardening, planning a garage sale and touching up the patches of peeling paint on the exterior of the house, along with writing full-time.

I stay up until 2 a.m. I’m back up at 6:45. I’m writing by 7:15 and half-way through a pot of strong coffee. I work agitatedly. I’m not paid by the hour, but by the word and every little blip of stress I feel slows me down. The more slowly I go, the more stressed out I get. I work off and on during the day, clinging for dear life to the small laptop computer that is my extra appendage. I take my mom to PT two days a week; I pause to find time to chat with her and she’s now to the point where she’s as pent up as I am and just wants to go for a ride. So we go to Wal-mart where a quick errand turns into a two hour shopping trip. I stand by and fidget while she peruses and takes stock of the shelves of Wally-stuff—I shake my leg, pick my fingernails, half crazy and tired. I think, “I won’t make enough money this week. There aren’t enough hours in the day; maybe I can write all night, too. My girlfriend wants us to take a trip to Canada next week. I can stand here a few more minutes because my mother almost died.”

I work well beyond a normal 8 hour day just to earn what you might earn working at the local coffee shop. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to have the work. It’s my internal apparatus I’m talking about here; my lack of productivity, as it’s said in the business world.

I leave in four days. The house hasn’t been cleaned. I’ve done a bit of gardening, not lately. No sign of yard sale. The paint will have to remain peeling on the side of the house where no doubt everyone knows “old people” live.

For a Living

Freelancing is running your own business. Don’t let anyone fool you. “Freedom” comes with a price. I don’t care if you’re baking cookies for a living; the key phrase is “for a living.” Will this contract hold out as long as promised? Am I being foolish to go with a client’s word? Where will my next client come from? Why do so many people pay for bad writing? Maybe tomorrow I’ll sort out my tax finances.

It seems as though “everyone” else thinks you’ve got it made with the freelancing gig: you can go wherever you want, do whatever you want to do, whenever you choose. That’s the Utopian vision, of course. Maybe freelance writers with a trust fund can navigate the waters of complete freedom of choice, but when it comes to making a living, there is some necessity to adhere to some sort of schedule.

Finding Peak

I feel like I’m climbing Everest in my life, but the peak is not worth it. I know MY peak. I am nourished/sated when I catch an unexpected sight of a full autumn moon just as it’s revealed from where it’s been behind a tumbling crowd of blackish night clouds.

I dance with the Peanuts in Charlie Brown Christmas because my hair is that crazy and I can.

I work out and sweat. I garden and play with the caterpillars and talk to the night crawlers and make an impromptu bouquet of wild flowers; carve my girlfriend’s initials under mine into the beech tree. My initials have been there since I was perhaps 10 or 12 years old. I sip, as opposed to gulp, a nice glass of red Spanish wine or a beer. I make love as if it’s the last thing I’ll get to do on the planet. I dance and sing out loud and make plans to go on vacation in Bora Bora where she and I will lie naked on the dock of one of those thatched cottages that sit over the emerald green lagoon.

When I do these things I find my edge, I get my voice back that I lose in all the bearing down on repetitive topics I lose sleep over. So, I am qualified to talk about the struggles of freelancing. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember holding a pencil or pen. I’ve disdained it. I’ve obsessed over it. I’ve destroyed it. I’ve gone for long periods of silence. And now I know that when I can do nothing else, when I’m frozen with lack of sleep, two days without a shower, worried about how I’ll make it in retirement, or realize I had no time to clean the house or weed the garden, I should dance like the Peanuts where the stars and moon are bright like cartoons and grab back my edge.

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